Friday, September 21, 2007

Speaking Truth to unKnown Powers & Principalities

Some very provocative responses to yesterday's post, including Robin's recollection of his personal exile from the timeless Eden of infancy -- the loss of his temporally infanity -- and his rude awakening to the constricting and chafing reality tunnel of time:

I was playing in my sandbox, creating roads and imaginary buildings, an activity I loved doing for hours. This particular day something happened. I stood up and walked towards our willow tree and suddenly felt something change. I instantly “forgot” everything. I knew that just 10 seconds ago I had full knowledge and remembrance of everything past, and now it was gone. And I knew the loss was permanent, which filled me with sadness. The memory of that step into linear time has stayed with me my entire life.

Time. You can't live with it, and can't live without it. Unless he had entered time, Robin wouldn't remember those traces of the timeless. But he heard the pied piper's forbidden flute, and his temporal ears and I were opened.

Where are you before you're in time? You're in eternity, the atemporal, and to the extent that you are, you'll have no recollections of it, since there was no time for events to have taken place. The events Robin remembers are not actually in eternity, but in what is called a transitional space, an area of overlap between time and eternity, consciousness and unconsciousness (a good place -- perhaps the only place -- to be -- more on which tomorrow).

The real eternity of infancy is not conscious, but fuses with the Background Object of Primary Identification. It leaves its traces in the general way we experience the world for the rest of our lives, as a threatening place, a secure place, a hopeful place, a disappointing place, a hostile place, a loving place, etc. It's no doubt what causes someone to be a loony dailykosbag or huffpo' boysandwitch, since they can't help seeing and experiencing the ugly world they perpetulantly create.

I was reminded of this while watching Teletubbies with my son this morning. For those of you who haven't seen this inane program that has a hypnotic effect on babies, it begins with a sun with an infant's face rising over the horizon. The sun has always been associated with the light of consciousness, and we can see that this operates on a deeply symbolic level, as the baby, in his infantile omnipotence, believes that he creates the reality that actually created him. He is the Central Sun who even gives birth to his own parents, Adam and Eve. How could it be otherwise in the deep unconscious, where there is no knowledge of beforeafter?

You might say that eternity is "colorless," but that it takes on a certain emotional color based upon unKnown experiences during our first three years of lives, beyond the horizon of articulacy. If you are left with a "bad color" that tinges everything in a negative way, it's extremely difficult to change it. It's like a mind parasite that is not so much a content as a toxic context -- not the contained but the container.

But it can be changed, and I believe this is one of the purposes of a spiritual practice -- to uproot one unconscious narrative and replace it with another. Importantly, you can't do this with just any old narrative that you invent. You can't just look in the mirror every day and repeat, "I'm good enough. I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, Al Franken loves me."

For one thing, in order to "speak" to the timeless unconscious, you must do so in a language it understands. This is the language of myth and symbol, puzzling paradoxables and smoking puns -- and revelation. Revelation is specifically revelation because it "reveals" things to the deep unconscious mind. It doesn't speak to the ego -- indeed, many aspects of religion make no sense to the the ego -- but to a much deeper part.

This is the reason, I believe, that Christianity spread so rapidly among the people who first heard it. To a historian of the era, it doesn't really make any logical sense, so they invent "rational" reasons why people heard "the word" and embraced it. But at the time, people obviously weren't hung up on the modern distinction between "fact" and "symbol," since the concept of factuality hadn't even really been discovered. Therefore, it was easier to embrace something that simply made sense to the soul.

The real reason most people are drawn to religion is that it bypasses the cramped illusions of the surface ego and speaks to them at a deeper and more expansive level. Once you understand this, you see how obvious it is. The ego has certain cognitive needs, but the ego is not the whole of our personality. Indeed, it is only a small part. Our Total Being has other cognitive needs, which include spiritual food.

How does one "engage the attention" of the unconscious? Clearly, this is the purpose of great art, poetry, or music. Indeed, the reason we call it great is that it somehow reaches deep within the reader, viewer, or listener, and engages the vast realm of the unthought known, as Christopher Bollas calls it.

Bollas also coined the phrase erotics of being for that disinct feeling that occurs when we discover or engage with an object in the external world that helps us to articulate an aspect of our Unthought Known. Without these objects, our Unthought Known would be unthinkable, and known only in potential. Or, you might say that it would be known by a nagging sense of its absence -- an absent presence.

Again, one of the purposes of religion is to resonate with this absent presence -- to flesh it out and give it body, blood, and voice. As I began exploring Christianity a decade or so ago, this was one of the realizations that dawned on me. I discovered so many luminous intellects -- Denys the Areopagite, Meister Eckhart, and others -- that I would have prevously dismissed as sadly superstitious mythtery mongers. Why would someone with a first class mind waste it on religion?

Because religion was simply the way they articulated the depth and greatness of their genius. It was the language they spoke in order to articulate the deepest aspects of reality. Once I realized this, Christianity suddenly "clicked" for me in a way it never had before. Now I understand why it is so much deeper than science, and why people will always have a need for genuine religion, without which they are condemned to superficiality and circularity. Like the obligatory atheist, they simply fall off the shallow end.

In a previous lifetime, I wrote a number of papers demonstrating that this way of looking at things was actually far more in accord with the latest findings of physics, let alone psychology. No one believes any longer that the world is constituted of material objects interacting like billiard balls in a deterministic way.

In my book, I go into this at some length, so I won't repeat myself here. The bottom line is that, if we base our metapsychology and metatheology on models emerging from modern science, we do not visualize an objective ego being buffeted from below by drives and instincts. Rather, we visualize an unbroken and ceaselessly flowing holographic field of energy-consciousness with implicate (unconscious, O) and conscious (explicate, (k)) dimensions.

But you knew that already.

But to the extent that you don't, it is highly likely that you will overemphasize mere logic as being sufficient to explain both reality and yourself. This overvaluation of logic is illogical to that which is the higher source of logic, which is to say, the intellect properly so-called. Logic is to ego as revelation is to Self, i.e., the total self of Being and its pal, the intellect.

I wish I had more time but I don't so we'll have to pick this up tomorrow. This will probably end up taking me a month or so to completely spit out, so don't get your expectorations up.


stu said...

Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar begins tonight. It is a time of reflection, evaluation, judgement and repentance. It is a day of AtONEment with God, when we assess our lives and actions and vow to repent - to turn around and realign align ourselves with God's path, the righteous path from which we have veered.

We ask forgiveness for our many sins, which we inevitably commit year after year. We strive for righteousness and piety - to live up to the transcendant ideals (the 613 commandments) that God has graciously bestowed upon us. And moment by moment, Jew by Jew, we restore righteousness to the world, bringing God's future into the present, transforming the world of form into Heaven on Earth.

This is our eternal duty. It is every Jew's promise to God. And this is why the Jews still exist today, bound by the first covenant, pulling the world up by its bootstraps, one righteous deed at a time.

But our burden is heavy, and by the very fact that we are not God, we can seldom, if ever, fully discharge our duty. We fail and we sin, over and over again.

But when we sin, our sins our not in vain. At least once year, on Yom Kippur, we acknowledge our failures, meditate on our sins and vow to right that which we have wronged. And every year, when we repent, we slowly actualize God's transcendent ideal in the here below. Every year, God's house feels more and more like His home.

So in this spirit of AtONEment, I offer the following:

At times, I have used this blog solely to indulge my will to greatness - to make myself feel more knowledgable or more spiritually advanced than others. I am sorry for that. No more.

And a prayer for us all:

"Elohai slichot: slach lanu, mchal lanu, kaper lanu."

(Merciful God: forgive us, purify us, redeem us)

Robin Starfish said...

Long live the "transitional space, an area of overlap between time and eternity, consciousness and unconsciousness (a good place -- perhaps the only place -- to be..."

Tristan gnos what you're talking about; what a joy! This one's for the Little Dude:

Comrade In Arms
hardwired dna
the lone ranger rides again
again and again

River Cocytus said...

Ah. Been studying Kanji, which are the Japanese idiograms originating from the Chinese language. If you don't try too hard to make your analysis logically consistent, just intellectually consistent, you'll find unknown treasure in just learning the meanings and the combinations of other symbols which serve to convey new meanings.

Interesting points: 1. The symbol for king or ruler and the symbol for jewel (or round object) are similar. If you took the symbol for king/ruler and added a mark (in a particular spot) you'd get jewel. Sort of like it was something a king would possess.

2. The symbols for 'beauty' and 'reality' are very similar. Indeed, they both look like higher stacked versions of 'heaven'.

That's just the beginning. It seems there is much 'asleep' in the symbols themselves.

Aquila said...

OT: excellent, if somewhat heavy-handed, discussion of The Other Side.

Smoov said...

"This will probably end up taking me a month or so to completely spit out"

Music to my ears!

I just sold a sizable chunk of stock. I'm relaxing my role in the corporation. I've finally found my replacement, and he'll start in three weeks.

Phase I of Permanent Slack has begun. And what a way to begin! A month of OC goodness to look forward to!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Stu, for that reminder, and for your prayers.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Coongratulations Smoov!
A well deserved slack indeed!

Van said...

Smoov! Excellent!

Anonymous said...

Each of us must grapple with the essential pain of being.

Life hurts unavoidably because to exist in space-time is painful in itself. There is no way to make existence comfortable.

Religion draws us in intitially because it promises relief from this pain, which stems from the fear of annhiliation.

Religion offers assurance that we'll go on after we die. We really need to believe this.

However, once one gets deeply into religion, the real release comes from no longer being frightened of annhilation.

But the release doesn't take away the pain. The pain is the whole point. We are on the "pain-world" and we come here expressly for the pain. To turn it away would be like paying for a meal in a restaruant and then turning it away when it arrived steaming at your table.

So go ahead and hurt. Ache. Suffer. Just stay in it and you'll out-endure it.

Anonymous said...

You might say that eternity is "colorless," but that it takes on a certain emotional color based upon unKnown experiences during our first three years of lives, beyond the horizon of articulacy.

Like the song says:

Then white.
All I see,
In my infancy.
Red and yellow then came to be.
Reaching out to me,
Lets me see.
As below, so above and beyond I imagine.
Drawn outside the lines of reason,
Push the envelope, watch it bend.

Van said...

Hmm... not feeling the pain tonight.

Just watched the 15yrolds (another bass player, no less) bands 1st payinggig - very cool. They've got a way's to go, but were surprisingly good.

Fun to see the other bands on the ticket do a double take "wha..? How old are these guys?!" and then later "They're just 15? Damn..."

Time can be what you make of it - for a time.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"For one thing, in order to "speak" to the timeless unconscious, you must do so in a language it understands. This is the language of myth and symbol, puzzling paradoxables and smoking puns -- and revelation."

Hi Bob-
I am awestruck by your ability to convey your realization of revelation!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Van-
That is cool! Obviously picked up Dad's talent!

Joan of Argghh! said...

Slack Party at Smoov's place!